As you may or may not have discovered this week, the mountain which the CSL Teen Camp took place (and has taken place there for years) caught fire in the middle of our spiritual work. We were asked to evacuate, and in which we did, were helped immediately by a plethora of volunteers and wonderful people. But, it was no mistake that this must have happened.
At CSL Teen Camp 2013, There’s No Place Like Om, we had themes for each day and events for each night that took place for our own enjoyment and spiritual hunger. On Wednesday, July 17, the theme for the day was Trust, and the event was Empowerment Night. We moved through the day as usual, occasionally glancing up at the rising, scarlet and lavender-colored smoke of the fire (which we had been aware of since it began), and then moving back into the processes and workshops we had attended camp for.
After Me Time, our reflection time after lunch, all of the teens met with their family groups (our workshop groups for the week), and moved through a powerful workshop called ‘Leave Your Baggage’. It worked on letting go of emotional baggage and moving on to a greater experience, or greater life. After a tearful workshop, I joined some friends for recreational time, hanging out and bouncing in anticipation of our favorite evening event. But, as rec. time came to a close, all of the advisers asked us to sit in the amphitheater and wait for instructions. When our amazing leader, Rev. Keith Cox, showed up we were given the news to evacuate, and to leave our baggage on the mountain, bringing only what was absolutely needed for the next twenty-four hours. So, we were literally leaving our baggage. And, at that moment Empowerment Night began.
We left the mountain in buses, but not after having been fed (by concern of the camp staff), and ended up at Hemet high school where the Red Cross gave us their best care. By words from Rev. Keith, they were blown away at having such a large group of teens behave the way we did, all-loving, peaceful, and relaxed as we were. We spent the night in the school’s music-room, where the volunteers had put down soft mats, blankets and pillows for us to sleep, and even brought us pizza. In the morning we were greeted by our wonderful advisers, and some breakfast; we had left-over pizza, honey-cakes, Hostess Donuts, and (my favorite) Starbucks Coffee, all given by volunteers and generosity of the Red Cross. After breakfast, we did a nurturing activity(A’s and B’s), in which we all came together to support each other during this whole, new experience. And, finally, we were given the news that we were going to be taken in by the lovely CSL Palm Desert. So, we got our things together and waited for the buses. And, as we waited we were even visited by a minister of CSL Hemet, telling us that we were all in their prayers. Then, the buses came, and we departed.
So, as we drove on to the Center, CSL Capo Valley youth group and I bathed in the gratitude for all of the love and support, and generosity that was shown in the past twenty hours. And, as we drove to the Palm Desert center, I couldn’t help but remember the conversations on the bus about the fire. More than five teens had recalled dreaming about the evacuation the night before, and I would say more than a dozen had said they had packed their bags at Me Time without knowing why they’d had the urge to do so. And, in my form, I had written in all of the stroke books that I had needed to on Monday, because I felt the urge. I didn’t know why, but I felt the longing and the need to write down all of the loving things I enjoyed about people in their stroke books. But, even as everyone had received so many signals to the evacuation, it was still an empowering experience-to step into our own Power as individuals and move through the experience, supporting the fellow campers, and recognizing all of the love and support we received with gratitude. So even though we had left the mountain physically, Summer Camp 2013 came with us wherever we went.
There’s No Place Like Om.